The DNA of Prom Night

Given the much-awaited disco-bopping soundtrack to Prom Night was finally released on CD in the spring of 2019…

prom night sountrack

I thought it was time for another re-watch, this time paying more attention to the various… ‘homages’ the film is patched together from. Perfectly, I might add.

So, starting at the top – why didn’t Kim (or Alex) tell the cops that they saw Nick and the other kids playing at the school/convent/whatever minutes before Robin’s death? You’d think they would be questioned about it.

The Halloween Xeroxing is rife, you could easily mistake these streets that teenage girls get stalked along:

halloween prom night

And then we have JLC and her gal-pals walking along together, carrying books, discussing girly things about upcoming dances n’ the like:

halloween prom night

Jamie even forgot her text book in both films – geography in Prom Night, chemistry in Halloween! Why does this revelation make Alex think “darn!” and why do we get to hear it?

How could Kelly and Jude even be friends with Kim without major guilt? THEY KILLED HER SISTER and are asking her about her sex life!!! And Nick is GOING OUT WITH HER!? After going out with WENDY, his accomplice!???

Then we have the escaped mental patient who returned to town, and his shrink – although this time the police summon him rather than the other way around. Said shrink vanishes early on though.

The bitchy girl and the scuzzy dude plotting to humiliate the prom queen, right outta Carrie:

carrie prom night

That dance routine nabbed from Saturday Night Fever, which featured John Travolta from Carrie! The Bee Gees versus the amusing composed-to-spec disco bops Paul Zaza and Carl Zitterer made for Prom Night is no contest though:

saturday night fever prom night

The interactions between Kim and her friends are good though, naturalistic teen girl banter:

prom night 1980

In summary, Prom Night is a jigsaw of a production, built with puzzle pieces from other films, but undeniably a fab one.

A friend recently asked me if I were to remake it, what my approach would be…

  • Well, not that vile 2008 remake
  • More kids in the game at the start, with one killed earlier in the day (rather than the hour wait)
  • Make more out of Principal Hammond and his wife as suspects – where do they go???
  • Perhaps have Kelly turn out to be the killer?

Upsetting the Apple Cart

hot fuzz 2007


4 Stars  2007/15/116m

“Big cops. Small town. Moderate violence.”

Director/Writer: Edgar Wright / Writer: Simon Pegg / Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton, Paddy Considine, Rafe Spall, Olivia Colman, Adam Buxton, Kevin Eldon, Anne Reid, Kenneth Cranham, David Threlfall, Lucy Punch, Ron Cook.

Body Count: 17

Laughter Lines: “You wanna be a big cop in a small town? Fuck off up to the model village!”

Huh? Are we really calling this a slasher film? No, of course not, but let’s also not ignore the fact that a sizeable chunk of Pegg and Frost’s best is just that – with a cloaked mystery killer axing, roasting, shearing, and dropping plinths on to the residents of Sandford.

I’m not massively impressed by Simon Pegg’s schtick usually. Yeah, Shaun of the Dead was funny immediately after Dawn of the Dead (I watched them back to back) and the guy knows his movie shit inside out, but I’m unable to escape a sense of self-satisfaction that more likely comes from all the media gushing than Pegg himself. See also: Ed Sheeran. Weirdly, I love Nick Frost in everything. But let’s forget all that, because Hot Fuzz transcends all of those thought processes with it’s 26-jokes-a-minute tempo.

hot fuzz 2007 simon pegg nick frost

Pegg is Sgt. Nicholas Angel, literally London’s finest who is shipped off to the small country town of Sandford after his superiors become aware he makes the rest of the Metropolitan Police force look bad by comparison. He is the job and the job is everything, which is why his relationship also failed. With no choice in the matter, Angel grumpily plods off to pastures new, where the local force of various inept and unchallenged officers has little to do other than show up at fetes and hunt down wayward swans.

hot fuzz 2007

Angel’s law-is-the-law attitude doesn’t go down well with his new colleagues so none of them are inclined to agree with his hypothesis that a killer may be on the loose when members of the community start dying is grisly ‘accidents’, starting with a double-decapitation by road sign, an explosion, and part of a church spire landing directly on the local journalist’s head, seconds before he was to share valuable information he’d learned with Angel.

hot fuzz 2007 anne reid

Only Nick Frost’s loveable PC, Danny, remains on side, keen to end up in a gun fight right outta Point Break or Bad Boys II, but Angel eventually offends everyone and then finds himself in need of their help once his suspicions turn out to be true and there is not one, not two, but an entire cult of psychotic townsfolk so hell bent on winning Village of the Year, they’re willing to permanently rid the place of anyone who might endanger the trophy. Yes, it’s Scooby Doo on speed.

hot fuzz 2007 simon pegg

Hot Fuzz switches to buddy cop movie for its final act – by way of a few borderline homoerotic near misses – with a huge shoot-out between cops and the kind of sweet middle-aged lady you see pedalling past with flowers in her basket. The film misses nothing in its composite of set pieces, cameos, and the tiniest details, all of which come back to play a valuable part later.

hot fuzz 2007

The only flaw is a gaping hole for a central female role of any real stature, with Olivia Colman’s perky WPC the closest. But this is boys stuff, made for lads by lads, so there’s no time to be wasted on that kind of PC stuff. This came out at the peak of the Pegg/Frost/Wright hype machine, so it would be entirely possible that it’s overrated because of this, but watching it again the other day to write this up, it still had me laughing out loud several times.

hot fuzz 2007

Look for cameos of varying impact from Cate Blanchett, Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, Bill Nighy, Stephen Merchant, and Peter Jackson.

Many Happy Returns

happy death day 2u 2019


3 Stars  2019/15/96m

“Death makes a killer comeback.”

Director/Writer: Christopher Landon / Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Rachel Matthews, Ruby Modine, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Steve Zissis, Charles Aitken, Missy Yager, Jason Bayle.

Body Count: 18… sort of

Laughter Lines: “You smacked my dick. That’s rude.”

The day she thought was over …is starting again. Spoilers follow.

Happy Death Day was an unexpected smash in 2017, and just eighteen months later came the they’d-be-stupid-not-to sequel, which attempts to build on the mythos of the first rather than just replay it. Rather than just replay it. Rather than just replay it.

The consequence of these changes is that the film moves further away from its negligible slasher template towards more of a cutesy sci-fi romp with a killer operating in the background. Even so, there’s still a lot of fun to be had if you don’t rock up expecting slasher sequences galore. We get a few, mostly in the first half, but otherwise this is a different tale.

happy death day 2u 2019 phi vu

Carter’s roommate Ryan, seen repeatedly interrupting in their dorm room first time around, finds himself caught in a time loop of his own creation, with another version of himself behind the baby mask, seguing nicely into an explanation of Tree’s experience: Ryan and some classmates built a machine that basically caught her up in the loop and now, is sending her into a parallel universe where she’s looping again.

This time though, Lori is not the one with the knives out for her – and her mom is alive! Understandably moved by getting her mom back, Tree decides to stay in this new corner of the multiverse, but soon learns that she’s just living a life that isn’t hers. And she still has the wackadoo maniac to deal with – their identity is pretty obvious this time though.

happy death day 2u 2019 jessica rothe

As a comedy, HDD2U is gold. Bitchy sorority prez Danielle is back, this time as a kinder, dimmer version of herself, who confuses Anne Frank with Helen Keller and has a great scene pretending to be blind to distract the Dean while the others steal his keys to liberate the time-bending machine.

Those looking for slasher thrills may be best to cruise on by though. The PG-13 rating is in full force with little to no bloodletting, some cool demises for both the luckless extras caught up in Tree’s rinse and repeat nightmare, and the methods by which she chooses to off herself every time the day requires a reset. Stick around for the mid-credits scene which seems to push Happy Death Day 3 even further from the raft of dead bodies.

happy death day 2u 2019 jessica rothe

Blurbs-of-interest: Rothe, Broussard, Vu, Matthews, Modine, Aitken, Bayle and Rob Mello all reprise their roles from the first film.


The Longest Day

slasher solstice 2019 netflix


2 Stars  2018/368m

Director: Adam MacDonald / Writers: Ian Carpenter, Lucie Pagé, J.P. Larocque / Cast: Baraka Rahmani, Lisa Berry, Salvatore Antonio, Dean McDermott, Mercedes Morris, Gabriel Darku, Joanne Vannicola, Paula Brancati, Ilan Muallem, Erin Karpluk, Jim Watson, Rosie Simon, Robert Cormier, Patrice Goodman.

Body Count: 19

Laughter Lines: “He jacked cars. He was a hood – he ended up *on* one.”

Season 3 of the Canadian stalk n’ slash anthology opts for a sort of 24 approach, setting each episode over three hours of the longest day of the year, while a mystery killer hacks, burns, and dissects their way through the residents of the Clayborne apartment building, a year to the day after bisexual man-whore Kit was stabbed to death there. So, in a similar move to 2012’s Tower Block, the other inhabitants failed to help the dying man and are so systematically eliminated.

slasher solstice 2019

Solstice employs an interesting character approach that caused mucho online moaning of its ‘liberal SJW agenda': We have a Muslim final girl, Saadia, left alone for a few days while her parents are out of town, her best friend Jen, who’s is being raised along with her brother, Connor, by unhinged lesbian stepmom Amber; Angel, bereaved sometime boyfriend of Kit, who is having an affair with Joe, who is with desperate-for-attention blogger Violet. Deep breath in. And then there’s white supremacist Dan, his very slutty daughter Cassidy; annoying artisan coffee shop owning hipster Xander, and his aesxual girlfriend Amy.

Virtually all of these people have hideous personalities, so when the aggressive wife-beating guy down the hall has his head axed off on the street in broad daylight and left on the hood of the car he stole, the detectives who still haven’t solved Kit’s murder are back on the scene.

slasher solstice 2019

Throughout the day, the detestable individuals are murdered in a variety of particularly gruesome ways: Face forced into a toilet bowl of acid, boiling water poured down a glass tube directly into the throat, a biology teacher dissected like a frog… The killer is inventive with their weapons to say the least. But who is it? And why? And why is it that these same assholes who were submitting noise complaints suddenly now can’t hear the screams of someone having their face forced into a blender next door?

Intermittent flashbacks inform us that Kit was a huge dick who pissed off virtually everyone, from receiving oral sex in the corridor, to sleeping with various co-residents – or trying to – and breaking hearts wherever he goes. Then there’s the matter of the woman who posted a bad Tweet about it, was flamed and threatened, until she burnt herself to death in front of everybody.

slasher solstice 2019

While marginally less aggressive in its horribly drawn characters than Guilty Party was, Solstice doesn’t do itself in favours either. A handful of the teens aside, everyone else is only capable of shitting over everyone else, from Violet’s slappable gossipmongering, the requisite high school twat who mocks the suicide and calls Saadia a terrorist, and the anti-everybody rants of the bigot – it’s as if the writers are either incapable of, or too afraid to write people we might, heaven forbid, care about or root for.

More actors return in new roles than from season 1 to 2, but if they’re going to forge ahead with further adventures, they really need to invest some time in building a universe where people are capable of more emotions than just hate.

Blurb-of-interest: Erin Karpluk was in Ripper 2: Letters from Within.

The Dog’s Bollocks

wilderness 2006


4 Stars  2006/15/91m

“It’s not about revenge. It’s about punishment.”

Director: Michael J. Bassett / Writer: Dario Poloni / Cast: Sean Pertwee, Alex Reid, Toby Kebbell, Stephen Wright, Lenora Crichlow, Luke Neal, Ben McKay, Karly Greene, Adam Deacon, Richie Campbell, Stephen Don.

Body Count: 11

Laughter Lines: “So you want me to go out there alone to find another guy out there’s alone, when nobody’s supposed to go out there alone?”

Bollocks = slang term for testicles; also slang for an untruth or lie; The Dog’s Bollocks = something awesome, based on concept that if a dog can lick his own bollocks, they must be tasty.

Coming along during a little renaissance of gritty British horror (28 Days Later…Dog SoldiersThe Descent, and the same director’s Deathwatch), this grisly Anglo/Irish sibling of Wrong Turn with a side of The Final Terror, sees a group of youth detention / juvie hall lads packed off to a remote island for ‘character building’ after their campaign of relentless bullying ends with the suicide of a weaker dorm mate.

Caught up in the blame is newcomer Callum (Kebbell), who just wants to keep his head down, do his time, and live his life, but Hitler Youth type Steve is keen to be as disruptive as possible, much to the chagrin of grizzled guard Jed (Pertwee, givin’ all that). Despite the island being ‘uninhabited’, the group run into a similar outing from a girls’ reform school, with ex-soldier Louise (Reid, from The Descent) leading two wayward girls through the forest. There’s also a reclusive hobo about, who is soon found with his throat chewed out – last person seen stood over the body? Callum.

wilderness 2006 sean pertwee

Only Louise considers that something else is going on, but everyone else is quickly convinced when another of the group disappears, save for a bitten off arm, and Jed is crossbowed to a tree, while a quartet of attack dogs sprint on to the scene and eat him alive. It soon becomes clear somebody is taking revenge for the juvie hall suicide, and has a degree of military training on his side.

wilderness 2006 sean pertwee

The teens are soon on their own, fighting with each other, switching allegiances, and dodging the savage dogs. Callum goes all Lord of the Flies crazy, while Steve is shunned by the others for his selfishness and inability to contribute in any positive way, which results in him killing his only friend. It eventually all comes down to Callum versus the vengeful psychopath, who is an interesting flip on the Mrs Voorhees template. A further minor twist thrown in to give the second survivor something to do while the big boys fight.

wilderness 2006

Wilderness was moderately pre-cut for language to avoid an 18 certificate, but the liberal bloodletting was left intact, which is a surprise given we have people ripped apart by dogs, decapitated, immolated, and falling face first into bear traps. It’s all gruesome stuff, offset by the fact that most of the characters aren’t written much beyond their criminal archetypes, so their sticky demises aren’t particularly undeserved. Louise is the exception in the film, demonstrating smarts and concern for her charges – so it’s obvious she won’t make it out – while some of the young cast members are a bit too well-spoken to convince as thuggish dog fodder.

wilderness 2006 stephen wight

These minor flaws aside, Wilderness holds its own in the brutality stakes. It’s a kick-ass little venture that pretty much went under the radar upon release. Contemporaneous reviews were lukewarm at best and it’s easy to understand why the po-faced, blood-splattered look of it wouldn’t go down with critics as well as, say, Severance, which employed comedy as a bedfellow to its horrors. I prefer this approach though.

wilderness 2006 alex reid toby kebbell

Blurbs-of-interest: Pertwee was in Botched; Adam Deacon was later in Comedown.

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